Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Your Inventive Neighbors

Corporate Counsel reports that Big Blue, Not Apple, Not Google, Got the Most Patents in 2014 (Jan. 12). So IBM ("Big Blue"), founded in 1911, is still very active in the invention biz. The story drew upon a study by IFI Claims Patent Services that looked at all the thousands of utility patents last year. (The study excludes design patents and plant patents. The types are defined here.)

Three companies in the top 50 are close to Seattle, including:
#5 Microsoft (2,829 patents)
#40 Boeing (901 patents)
#50 Amazon (750 patents) 

You can search the USPTO Patent Full-Text and Image Database to find patents from other companies. For instance, in "advanced search," AN/Starbucks retrieves patents assigned to Starbucks. Take a look at, say, Patent 20110088560, "Machine for Brewing a Beverage Such as Coffee and Related Method."

Diagram of coffee maker from Patent 20110088560

To find patents from other local innovators. I used "advanced search" again:

(AS/WA AND ISD/2014): 5456 patents.

AS/WA means that the patent assignee is in Washington, and ISD/2014 means that the issue date was 2014.

The first hit—"Apple tree named 'Regal 13-82" (plant patent 25,189)—reminds us that agriculture is an important part of our economy. Apple production was worth $2.25 billion in 2012.

Photo comparing Regal 13-82 apples with Braeburn and Honeycrisp apples

The patent database is fun to play around with, whether you're interested in patent law or just curious about inventions.

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